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Drinks

Flying Embers Hard Kombucha Pineapple Chili

If you’re like me, it took you years to get into kombucha. It’s vinegary, sour-smelling off-putting taste probably hit your nose and distracted you from what could maybe have been an acquired, one-of-a-kind adventure. I eventually did get into drinking it, after an upset stomach hit and being told the probiotics in kombucha could help me right my wrongs and fix me right up. A modern magic elixir. Not that I believe in such things.

I sometimes stroll through my local Trader Joe’s in hopes of finding a new drink, although I don’t drink very many things with calories, as it were, I am partial to certain flavors of alcohol. In recent times, some products, such as the tiny bottled hard kombucha under the brand Kyla have been harder to find and in some cases have straight up disappeared from store shelves. So when I saw THIS on the shelf I knew it was a matter of having to try it, and having to try it meant having to review it. I think. I did it anyway.

Right off the bat, the can advertises this to have nothing added, be gluten free, non-gmo, vegan, keto, organic and has live probiotics. Like most hard kombuchas, this is 6.8% ABV, which is impressive.

It pours opaque, but not dark. The juice color is a mix of their root blend: ginger, turmeric, pineapple and chili. Off the bat, it’s missing kombucha’s vinegary taste profile(or I’ve gotten so used to it I can’t taste it anymore). It has a nice mouthfeel and residual tingle and mouthburn. Never feeling alcoholic, this kombucha goes down easy, and for a fan of say, cayennade by GTs or other brands, this is a twist on that with a bit of sweetness.

Not to say this is sweet. To try and describe it, it’s as if you took pineapple juice and sucked the sugar out. It’s got phantom sugar. Beyond that, it’s spicy. And this has a fun, spicy, sparkling juice flavor that builds mid-glass and continues until the end.

For 130 calories, this is a must-buy. It checks the boxes of a good beverage meeting the needs of several different niches. Remember, this is gluten free, non-gmo, vegan, keto, organic and has live probiotics. I’d buy this again(and did cop an additional four pack after my initial two taste test) but initially, my thoughts said, “joke’s on you, I don’t have to wait, because I bought two.”

Oh, and a word to the wise? This is easy drinking, but it does hit hard. Drink responsibly.

Found at Trader Joe’s.

August 26, 2020
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Trader Joe’s Sparkling Black Tea with Peach Juice Beverage

What a beautiful, stylish box.

What a beautiful, stylish can.

This design transcends a lot of what Trader Joe’s has to offer, the usual old-timey drawing is in the rendering of the peaches and leaves, leaving the matte black box to stand on its own. The font, the raised, metallic rose gold letters, the top and bottom. The can itself is a creamy off-white that features the same design, one so strong it can both black AND white.

It speaks to me, and sparkling water beverages do too.

The can describes this as “Sip. ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!’ Repeat.” I’m inclined to agree. These have a snappy, crisp bubble, thanks to the method of first making black tea, sweetening that with peach juice and carbonating it. The only other additives are citric acid to acidify and ascorbic acid to hold color.

It’s simple, delightful, subtle. 15 calories, 3g of carbs with 2g in sugar, none added. This is as natural as a carbonated tea can be. Sweet tea lovers, beware though, this is not a carbonated sweet tea with peach juice, this is a carbonated black tea sweetened with peach juice. Big difference. A very beautiful difference. Beware.

Are you a sparkling water drinker? Like me? Somebody who likes the joy of bubbled water but has long since moved past LaCroix? Try this. For me, somebody that doesn’t actually drink full sugar/added sugar beverages, this is actually pretty sweet. I should know. I love these so much I’ve bought 4 5 cases in two weeks, and can kill a box in a thirsty whirlwind of a night. At this rate, I might need a CO2 hookup in the house, because dude, I might need to start carbonating tea. …I might need to start carbonating like, everything.

Admittedly, this can be pricey if you’re addicted, and at a dollar a can($3.99 per pack of four), a bougie summertime treat. I would buy these on recommendation from a Trader Joe’s Crew Member, and I can assure you, yeah, kinda did, but left to my own devices? On a budget? In current year? Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah, I’d still buy these.

Get them home, chill th— Okay, do what I do. Get them home, rip open the box, grab all four(big hands, I’m a big dude), throw them in the ice in the freezer, take a shower. If you’re growing mint, gently pluck some. Or not. I don’t control how you treat your mint, and it genuinely grows like a weed so punish it if you’re feeling it. That aside, a glass of backyard sweet tea might be in your future.

Enjoy. Responsibly.

Found at Trader Joe’s.

For some fun, try this: a 3:1 ratio of tea to spiced rum.

  • 2 mint leaves
  • 1 8.75oz can of Trader Joe’s Sparkling Black Tea with Peach Juice
  • 3oz of spiced rum
  • ice
  • a sprig of mint or twist of orange peel to garnish

Start with a large glass or a big Ball jar. If you’re me, you probably have a pint Ball jar hanging around. Muddle your mint, add your ice. Pour your tea into your glass. Float some rum on that and call it an afternoon.

For me, this would be sweet enough on its own, but feel free to add a dash of simple syrup if needed. Skip that and serve it up with a hit of lemonade if you need a little more of a diffusion.

August 15, 2020
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Sprite Lymonade

1% juice is both a statement on lack of quality and a good time. 1% juice is walking down the aisle with your mom in the 90s and watching her pick up a gallon of orange drink. 1% juice is chugging one of those grenade shaped drinks afterschool with your friends and feeling your throat burn as you seared it with blue 1 lake and high fructose corn syrup. 1% juice wasn’t good for you, but it tasted good.

And sometimes, 1% juice is in a soda called Sprite Lymonade. Lime-on-ade? Lemo— okay look, Coca-Cola company made up a word— okay, I watched a Youtube video and they pronounce it as LIME-onade. Since Sprite is a lemon-lime soda and they’ve added just a touch of lemonade, this is Coca-Cola’s way of being quirky with their naming. It’s fun. It’s also super confusing to order if you aren’t doing it for yourself. Keep in mind, it’s not *much* lemonade. This “made with real juice” soda is still only 1% real juice.

Poured out of the bottle, Lymonade has that look to it that added lemon juice does, with free-floating juice and noticeable solids on its surface. Not even soda can hide that real quality about lemon juice.

Everything about Sprite is here, with just a little extra. There’s still that light taste, satisfying flavor and crisp bubble. It’s what is says on the bottle, and if you find regular Sprite or zero calorie Sprite enjoyable, you’ll like this. It’s a little sweeter, and still not ever near anything tart like maybe it is in an alternate universe, but it’s good.

I first found Lymonade through Coke Freestyle machines at Wawa stores near me. Usually, I’m a Coke Zero fanatic, and don’t touch normal versions of sodas unless I’m curious. To date, I’ve only drank normal versions of Coke Orange Vanilla, Sprite Cranberry and now Lymonade. It takes a lot for me to decide to try the regular version, and if you’re like me, the zero calorie version(if you’re used to drinking zero calorie and know its taste) is tasty and definitely worth it. It tastes lighter, and cleaner than it’s more syrupy, heavier normal version.

But hey, don’t take my word for it.

Found at Walgreens.

August 3, 2020
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Dippin’ Dots – Birthday Cake Flavored Magic Milk Straws

Posted in Confectionaries, Drinks by

Hello food friends! I am so glad its Saturday. This week was pretty whirlwind and I definitely need some time to regroup. A little anecdote from work yesterday – I work in shipping and receiving at my job and I am the only person that works back there, so when things get a little crazy, my brain often tries to do a million things at once. I’m sure most of you can relate to that it doesn’t always work as planned when trying to accomplish many things at once. I was unloading a shipment and was checking the packing slip against our purchase order in the computer and there were a bunch of items that they sent us that were not on our purchase order. Sometimes this happens, and I just adjust our purchase order to reflect the incorrect shipment so that our inventory is correct, but this was a lot of stuff.

I approached my boss and asked if she wanted to keep the items and she said no and to contact the vendor to see what was up with all of this stuff. Luckily our customer service rep for this particular brand is rather personable and friendly and she agreed to look into it for me after I emailed her all of my paperwork. When I returned to my desk, after emailing her from the front office (without the dang attachment, which I had to send again, feeling like an idiot) I returned to my desk in the backroom and noticed that my printer was out of paper… GREAT. So why could I not find all these items on our purchase order? Because my printer didn’t print the entire thing. I had to email her yet again and admit my dummy mistake, at lest it made for a good laugh. Moral of the story? Check your printer.

That pretty much set the pace for my entire day – and honestly I was glad to jet out of there at 5:30. I really enjoy my job, but some days are just insane. So today I have killed myself at the gym (another life lesson, don’t leave your inhaler at home because you don’t feel like carrying it) am getting an oil change and am at Starbucks drinking the most expensive chocolate soy milk I have ever had because it sounded good.

I saw these at Walmart the other night while doing a little grocery shopping for the week. Some of you may recall that I have reviewed a couple of other versions (here) but who knew Dippin’ Dots were still around, let alone in the milk game. I guess the progression is natural, considering ice cream is made of milk, but we shall see.

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Much like the Got Milk? version of these straws, they are somehow magical. I am unsure what about them makes them magical, its not like you can’t see what is inside of the straw. Now if these looked like ordinary straws and they somehow managed to taste like birthday cake when drinking milk? THAT would be magical. When I think birthday cake, my first thought goes to a generic sheet cake with the overly sugary icing that is oh so good, but oh so bad at the same time. Much like when I reviewed the Got Milk? version, I decided to eat these more like a pixie stick than use them in milk (mostly because I don’t drink milk and I don’t often have soy or almond milk in the house because I don’t use it fast enough) Maybe that is where all of this goes wrong.

I snipped off the end of the straw and poured a bit into my mouth. My initial reaction is that these taste more like sprinkles that you would find on birthday cake more so than the cake itself. Now don’t get me wrong, I love sprinkles. I even used sprinkles in my cereal in a moment of desperation after not being able to locate the sugar at my Mom’s house. (photographic evidence here) But I was expecting the buttery taste of the cake and the sugary taste of the frosting mixed in one. In the name of science, or gluttony, I devoured one more, thinking maybe I would finally make sense of what they were trying to do here, but it was still just a bunch of sugar to me. Richard dared me to pour an entire one in my mouth, and not wanting to opt out of a dare, I poured the entire contents of a third straw into my mouth. I could kind of see where Dippin’ Dots were going with this, but it missed the rich cake flavor that I was expecting. (P.S. Richard also accused me of trying to show off my cute nails in the second picture, this may or may not be true)

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Texture: 4/5 – Now because these are meant to be consumed with milk, I imagine that there would be little texture change in your bovine beverage, but because of the volume in the straw, I also imagine that you would have to consume quite a bit of milk to use up the entire contents of the straw. Now eating them, they are rather crunchy, somewhat similar in texture to a nerds candy or a sugar sprinkle.

Smell: 3/5 – These had a faint smell of what could be considered cake, but the aroma was pretty faint.

Appearance: 5/5 – I am a sucker for pastel colors despite my love for black clothing. The pink, blue, yellow and white dots in the straw remind me of birthday cake.

Taste: 3.5/5 – I feel that these straws miss the mark a little with the flavor profile of birthday cake. It has the frosting element down, but it really needs some help in the cake flavor department. I think I would buy these again as a treat to pour on ice cream or something sweet but not filling to eat in a long line at Disneyland (I’m jonesing hard for a little Disneyland right now)

May 18, 2013
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Starbucks – Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuchino & Lemon Cake Pop

Confession time – did you know that I did a brief stint as a Starbucks manager? Working for Starbucks was actually pretty fun. I always took the complicated drinks as a fun challenge and liked making friends with my regular customers. The major confession is though that I cannot stand coffee at all. When I was little, I was diagnosed with chronic migraines (which I still have to this day) and my doctor prescribed a small cup of coffee a day. No matter how much cream, sugar, or whatever my Mom put it in the coffee, it was still beyond gross to me, and I still share this feeling. The hardest part of my Starbucks training was the fact that I had to try every drink I made, which not only sent me bouncing off the walls because I don’t drink soda or energy drinks, so my caffeine intake is pretty minimal, but they all tasted gross to me.

Since I am full of confessions today, my heart actually is with Dutch Bros. Coffee, but sadly the closest one to me is way out of the way on my route to work. I finally figured out how to tweak the drinks that I liked getting there for the Starbucks recipes that I used to make every day at work and now I have some pretty awesome custom drinks that I like to throw the new kids at my local ‘bucks through.

Anywho – today marks the launch of Starbucks new spring/summer menu items and I decided to break away from my normal routine and try a few this morning.

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First up we have the new Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuchino. I normally get a chai frapp when I am at Starbucks if I am in the mood for something cold, but caramel sounded really good this morning. You may be asking yourself, what is the difference between this drink and their regular frappuchino? A regular caramel frappuchino uses only one type of caramel where the caramel ribbon crunch uses 4 different kinds blended into the drink. The caramel ribbon crunch version has a dark caramel drizzle on top with caramel crunchies on top (technical term here) I enjoy mine with soy and no whip because of the ole lactose intolerance factor, but let me assure you, this drink is wicked good. If you are not into super sweet drinks, this drink may not be for you as it is really rich from all the caramel, but maybe skip dessert one day and have one of these bad boys instead. Just don’t look at the calories, you’ll thank yourself for it.

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Next we have the new Lemon cake pop. I have enjoyed all of the cake pops that Starbucks has had in their pastry case so I figured that this would be no different and boy was I right. My favorite bakery item that I usually get is the lemon loaf, and lemon in general is my go to flavor when it comes to dessert choices if chocolate or peanut butter is not involved. The lemon cake pop is a perfect balance of sweet with a light tinge of tart lemon, making for a delicious two bite snack. The flavor reminds me of the lemon muffins that I used to get off the food truck near my Dad’s work as a kid. Except with way less preservative flavoring and more yummy.

So my vote is that these two items can stay forever – I know this won’t happen, but a girl can dream. Starbucks is also offering a new bunch of salads to their cold cases as well as adding valencia orange to their line up of refreshers in June. If you’re more of a tea person, they will also be adding the shaken peach green tea lemonade in June as well.

(please note that I was not compensated for this post by Starbucks in any way, and that my review is based purely on my own opinions)

April 30, 2013
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